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Lieutenant Frederick Howard WrightLieutenant Royal Garrison Artillery
Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : Frederick Howard Wright
Date and place of birth: 28th September 1894 Stockton-on-Tees
Date and Place of Death: 16th December 1989 Folkestone
Childhood: Privileged , one of two children
Parents: Hugh Francis Wright and Alice Harrison nee Sharp
Parents occupations: Mechanical engineer ( Also at Gretna)
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: Not known
Occupation: At Gretna, Lieutenant Royal Garrison Artillery Followed by Chartered accountant and managing director of cigarette manufacturing company
Place of residence at Gretna: 15 Canberra Road, Gretna
Marital status: Married
Travels: Multiple , possibly annual, trans-Atlantic crossing to American Tobacco Company in New York City between1932 -1961
Awards/recognitions: None known
Positions held: Managing Director cigarette company
Trivia / any other information: Yes
Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Blogs about the individual:
Websites about the individual:
Further links, notes, and comments:
J. Wix and Sons – Graces Guide
History of the School – Oundle School
Frederick Howard Wright 1894-1989
Employment at H.M. Factory Gretna during WW1 appears to have been a family affair for the Wrights. The Electoral register for Gretna for 1918-19 lists Frederick H Wright, Lieutenant, RGA at 15 Canberra Road and his parents Hugh Francis Wright, engineer and Mrs Alice H Wright at 16 Canberra Road. Nowhere is it evident as to what Frederick’s role at Gretna was, not even a hint can be deduced from his future employ but he had been in the Royal Engineers, clearly his father was an engineer and census information tells us that so was Frederick’s grandfather ( mechanical engineer) and great grandfather hailing from a great, great, grandfather who was a blacksmith. The only family member not at Gretna was sister Alice although there is no evidence that she wasn’t there.
Looking at Google maps it seems that Frederick lived opposite his parents in what were staff houses.
Frederick Howard Wright was born on 28th September 1894 at Stockton-on- Tees, County Durham to Hugh Francis Wright and Alice Harrison nee Sharp. In 1891 Hugh was described on the census as a 27 year old mechanical draughtsman, living in Stockton whereas 10 years previously in 1881 he had been an engineer’s apprentice. Frederick was the eldest of only two children born to Hugh and Alice between 1893 and 1897.
They married at St Thomas , Stockton on 14th September 1893. Alice was one of at least 10 children, not all survived. Her father was a letter press printer employer of men and apprentices. Hugh was also one of many offspring.
Twelve months later they welcomed Frederick, followed by a daughter, Alice Hilda on 17th June 1897.
The 1901 census is the first indication of the social standing of Frederick’s family. Hugh , 37 is a mechanical engineer, born Dudley, Staffs., Alice Harrison, 35 , born Stockton, Durham, Frederick H 6 and Alice Hilda 3. A 28 year old general servant is employed at their home, 47 Swinburne Rd, Eaglescliffe, Durham.
During the next 10 years , Hugh moved his family to Newport, Shropshire- the address given for he, Alice and daughter Alice in the 1911 census. Hugh has been promoted at 47 and is now “ general manager gas plant and works . Limited Company”. Alice is 45, they have been married for 17 years and have had 2 children. Alice Hilda at 13 and three quarters is a school girl and they employ one domestic servant in their 10 room dwelling.
Frederick is listed in 1911 as a 16 year old boarder at Crosby School Boarding House, Milton Rd, Oundle, Northants – founded by the Worshipful Company of Grocers – more information can be found at History of the School – Oundle School
Photographs are included in the attached folder.
The school registers accessed via the above school website show that Frederick left the school on 1st July 1912. His home address was Fernleigh, Newport, Salop.
We know from forces-war-record.co.uk that Frederick joined the Royal Engineers as a serjeant in 1914 and was promoted to second lieutenant of Royal Garrison Artillery – the technical branch of the Royal artillery. We also know from a later description that he had a war scar on his leg but have no details as to when, where or how this occurred or whether this was the reason he was removed from active service and deployed to Gretna as a Lieutenant. ( electoral register), living in staff quarters at 15 Canberra Road, Gretna. Whether he arrived there before, after or at the same time as his father is not clear.
The next evidence of Frederick after the end of the war is his marriage to Kathleen Laidlaw Arnold in April 1924, registered in the Hendon District of Middlesex.
Kathleen was 4 years Frederick’s junior, the daughter of a master mariner John Charles Capper Arnold who is missing from the 1901 census so is presumed at sea. She and her mother in that year lived in a large house in Deptford shared with a widow and her 4 grown up children. Kathleen was the only surviving child of her parents.
Kathleen’s father is listed in the Royal Naval Reserves registers for 1917 and 1919 as a temporary Lieutenant from 4th October 1915 serving on the “ Albatross”.
There is no evidence that Frederick and Kathleen had any children.
In 1932 we get an insight into the career Frederick is following. On his 38th birthday, 28th September, 1932 he sailed from New York to Southampton aboard “SS Aquitania”. The passenger listing tells us that he is a chartered accountant and his home address is 27, Mill Way, Mill Hill, North London. This is the first evidence of Frederick’s chosen career.
Further trans-Atlantic listings followed at regular intervals. In November 1938 Kathleen accompanied her husband.
On 28th April 1939 Frederick arrived in New York on SS Aquitania, paid for by J Wix and Company, Old Bond Street. His destination was the American Tobacco Company on 5th Avenue and he was to be staying at The Ritz Carlton Hotel. This is where we learn that he is 6’ 1” tall, with a fair complexion, fair hair and blue eyes. He also has a “ war scar on right leg”. He is described as a chartered accountant. J. Wix and Sons – Graces Guide
Wix of Old Bond Street was aleading cigarette manufacturer, a subsidiary of Gallahers and producers of Kensitas cigarettes among many other famous names. The above link gives further information. Here is an advertisement from 1936
The 1939 register gives us a further insight into Frederick’s business when not only is he listed as a chartered accountant but also the managing director of a cigarette manufacturer. He and Kathleen are living at 1 Lawrence Court, Mill Hill, NW London. They employ a domestic servant.
The same register lists Hugh and Alice junior. Frederick’s mother Alice must have died before 1939 but it is unclear when. Hugh at 75 is a “Mech. Engineer M of M and other concern” ( M of M being Ministry of Munitions). He is also a ARP voluntary warden. Sister Alice Hilda, still unmarried at 42 has no occupation but is a Red Cross volunteer.
Parents Hugh, Mech engineer. Chief engineer M of M and other concern. ARP warden voluntary. Their address is “ Rosslyn”, Lyonstown Avenue, East Barnet, Hertfordshire.
Alice married in 1945 just two years before the death at the Three counties Hospital, Stotford, Bedfordshire of her father, Hugh. Probate gives a date of death of 15th March 1947 , effects to Frederick Howard Wright managing director and Alice Hilda Walter wife of Edward Joseph Walter, £9705 16s 11d.
Kathleen accompanied Frederick to New York again in 1951. Thereafter he appears to have travelled alone. There is evidence of trips in 1953, 1955, 1956,1957 and 1958. The common thread is his destination of The American Tobacco Company. In 1956 he was the accountant/managing director and thereafter the managing director. Gracesguide ( link above ) gives examples of Kensitas advertisement for 1953 , probably influenced by Frederick.
The last trip to New York to the same destination appears as a flight in 1961. His home address has stayed the same – 1 Lawrence Court, Mill Hill.
Sister Alice died in 1964 in Hertford. Sadly, we do not know when Kathleen died but Frederick lived to be 95. He died on 16th December 1989 at Spade Nursing Home, Folkestone. Effects left of £427,885. ( £ 744303.37 in 2021).